The flash flood caused by Eurydice storm that devastated west Attica, with 16 confirmed dead so far, was the third worst flooding disaster recorded in Attica; in terms of the number of victims, experts say.
According to Dr. Kostas Lagouvardos of the National Observatory of Athens, head of research at the Environment and Sustainable Growth Institute and in charge of its weather site meteo.gr, Wednesday’s flooding in west Attica was outstripped only by a major flood in Athens’ western suburbs on November 5-6, 1961, and one on November 2-3, 1977 in the same area.
Dr. Lagouvardos said meteo.gr scientists believe Wednesday’s rainfall must have been very localised, with most of the water falling on the mountains north of the affected area, though there is no weather station in the area to confirm their estimates.
By analysing satellite images, however, scientists were able to discern a feedback phenomenon of the storms in the area between 3 and 7am on Wednesday. “This could cause continuous rainfall in a very restricted area, thus leading to a sudden flood with the ensuing disastrous consequences,” Lagouvardos noted.
This was made more intense because the region had received a lot of rain on Monday and Tuesday, so that the soil was quickly saturated, he added.
Further evidence that the phenomena were quite local came from weather station measurements in nearby Vilia, Elefsina and Agioi Theodoroi, which recorded only a few millimetres of rain.
Chief research Dimitra Founda noted that rainy days in Athens and Attica are steadily decreasing but, whenever they fall, rains are more intense. She said this was proved by an analysis of data on total annual rainfall in Athens in the National Observatory’s historic archives, going back to 1860.
Data shows an increase in the number of days of strong, or very strong rain in Athens per decade, with the biggest percentage of strong rainfalls occurring between 1998-2007.